If you haven’t yet seen snow, you can probably bet that you won’t be in for a white Christmas. But some places around the world are almost guaranteed to have, year on year, the picture-perfect, blanket-white festive season.
For the snowiest places on earth, the phenomenon is just a predictable if mildly inconvenient part of the winter season. It seems like a dream to those who crave but rarely get a white Christmas. Sometimes, these places receive so much snow that schools and offices take snow days, students and workers enjoying impromptu days off sipping hot cocoa while many in more temperate climates traipse to work through mild cold and rain.
However, snow can mean dangerous conditions like ice, power outages, exposure, and more. A white Christmas might sound wonderful, and the opportunities for winter festivals and snow sports do abound, but the snow certainly doesn’t make life easy for locals.
If you think the pros of a picturesque snow Christmas would outweigh the cons, you might want to bookmark the following twenty dream destinations for December 2015. These are the twenty snowiest locations around the world, measured in inches per year.
20. Leavenworth, Washington – 94 inches
Leavenworth, Washington is neatly tucked beside a mountain and is built to simulate a Bavarian village that you would find in Europe. With a population of just under 2000 people, the town’s economic status is dependent on the snow as Leavenworth is a tourist hub for winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snow sculpting, and more. At Christmas, the town looks exactly like something you might find in a snow globe.
19. Buffalo, New York – 95 inches
This won’t be the last time you see the state of New York on this list. In fact, Buffalo is actually pretty famous because it gets over 95 inches of snow each year. The city is home to over 259,000 people, and one of the reasons why it gets so much snow is because it sits at the head of the Niagra River, giving the city lots of moisture to freeze in the air. The city holds a lot of historical significance as it was where President William McKinley was assassinated and then Theodore Roosevelt took over.
18. Rochester, New York – 99 inches
Rochester, just this month, received about a year’s worth of snow in less than a week. But on average, this town still features among the world’s snowiest so Rochester’s weather blip this year isn’t that much of an anomaly.
The city is located south of Lake Ontario and is home to 260,000 people and is a prime spot for American history.
17. Akita, Tōhoku, Japan – 107 inches
In the city of Akita, there stands one of Japan’s oldest castles, built in 733 AD. In addition to the castle, about 320,000 people call the city home. Each year, about 107 inches of snow cover the city. But since the city is located west of the Sea of Japan and along the Akita Prefecture, it’s in a prime spot to get a lot of snow because of all the moisture plus the cold temperatures of being so far up north.
16. Saguenay, Quebec, Canada – 123 inches
This is probably the youngest city on this list, formed in 2002 as a merger of cities and municipalities. The city has about 145,000 residents and sees about 123 inches of snow per year. Outside of the city are beautiful forests that turn into a winter wonderland when the snow comes down, and there are lots of things to do in the winter. From festivals, snow sculptures, to riding snowmobiles, and more, Saguenay definitely makes the best out a frozen situation.
15. Syracuse, New York – 124 inches
Syracuse, New York is home to over 145,000 people and is one of the most central cities in the state of New York. Obviously, the town is very far up north and therefore, receives lots of snow each year. It is also home to Syracuse University, which was declared one of the snowiest colleges in the United States. The town brings in a lot of tourism between the university and the New England-esque atmosphere, which means a lot of the tourists come from the larger cities so that they can watch the leaves change and what not.
14. Quebec City, Quebec, Canada – 124 inches
Quebec City is home to over 491,000 people and is the second largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec. The town sees 124 inches of snow each year. With the larger population, and being the second largest city, there’s a lot to do in the town should you find yourself with a snow. If the museums are open, you can check out the rich history of Quebec City as one of the oldest towns in North America. There are also lots of cultural activities available that celebrate the city’s rich European roots. Each year, the city also has a winter carnival complete with snow structures.
13. St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada – 131 inches
Many people know St. John’s Newfoundland as one of the most historically significant locations in North America, as it originally claimed as an English colony. There is no doubt that the winters must have been harsh for the early colonists, as the town gets an average of 131 inches of snow per year. St. John’s proximity to the water and lining the Avalon Peninsula is definitely a factor for all the frozen moisture build up. Today’s population is at over 100,000 residents.
12. Toyama, Hokuriku, Japan – 143 inches
Toyama is located on the island of Hokuriku, which is the largest landmass in the country of Japan and positioned along the northern part of the sea of Japan. Toyama is the capital city of the Toyama Prefecture and is home to over 417,000 residents. Given the city’s proximity to the ocean and geographical location for freezing temperatures, it’s not a huge surprise to see the massive snowfall of over 143 inches each year. The snowfall gets so intense that walls of snow are cut through so that the roads are still usable. The most popular and well know highway is called the Yuki no Otani, located close to Toyama.
11. Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan – 191 inches
Not only is Sapporo one of the snowiest places in Japan, it is also the fourth largest city with 1.9 million residents. The city is located on the island of Hokkaido, which is one of the most northern islands of the country. The snowfall is such a focal point for the city that they even have an annual festival called the Sapporo Snow Festival, which features snow sculptures, activities, food, and more. Also, Sapporo hosted the XI Winter Games in 1972. Pretty much, the town of Sapporo has embraced their snowy culture and has made the best of the intense snowfall.
10. Truckee, California – 203 inches
Truckee, California is located high in the Sierra Mountains and near the famous Yosemite National Park and Donner Pass. Given its pristine location for snow, it is not all that surprising that this town experiences so much white powder. With the average of just above 200 inches, sometimes the snow comes down in lumps, and leaving high piles of snow, trapping people inside their homes or cars. Needless to say that the salters and snow plows definitely have their work cut out for them.
9. Crested Butte, Colorado – 215 inches
Alright, admit it, you probably had a giggle or two reading the name of this town. Crested Butte is located high in the Rocky Mountains in the United States and is home to some of the best known ski resorts in the world such as Telluride and Vail. While the average snowfall each year is 215 inches, 2014 has become quite a year in terms of snow with a whopping 266 inches. It will be interesting to see what the 2015 snowfall will become and seeing if the average begins to increase.
8. Chamonix, France – 264 inches
When it comes to snowiest places in Europe, Chamonix, France definitely takes the cake…er…pastry. Receiving an average of 264 inches of snow per year, Chamonix hosted the world’s first Winter Olympics in 1924 (what better place to do it?) and one of the most popular skiing destinations in the world. Chamonix is also used as training grounds for new recruits who want to get into the career of rescue missions. Numerous tourists have noted that once they spend some time on Mt. Chamonix, they really don’t want to go skiing anywhere else.
7. Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, US – 281 inches
Mt. Washington is quite a unique entry on this list because it is one of the snowiest places on the eastern side of the United States, but the snow doesn’t really stick around for long. While Mt. Washington gets about 281 inches of snow on average per year, because it is one of the windiest summits, the snow literally gets blown off the mountain. So where does the extra snow go? It usually ends up in the Tuckerman Ravine. But the snow certainly isn’t wasted, as skiers and snowboarders take advantage of the blown away powder for some real winter adventures.
6. Aomori City, Tōhoku , Japan – 312 inches
This city is home to 299,000 people and gets the most snow in the country of Japan with a whopping 312 inches on average per year! Aomori City is located in the northeast region of Honshu, Japan and surrounded by the Mutsu Bay, the Aomori Bay, and the Hakkōda Mountains, which means that it has the perfect ingredients to take on tons of snow with all of the moisture and freezing temperatures. The country of Japan is already in the proximity for colder air and higher elevations, and Aomori City just intensifies those odds.
5. Valdez, Alaska – 326 inches
When it comes to plenty of ski resorts, Valdez, Alaska has you covered. Surrounded by mountains, the moisture from the Pacific is what brings the region its 326 inches of snow each year to this city in the North. Valdez isn’t a small town either, it’s a decent size town in Alaska with nearly 4,000 people in population and was founded in 1901. You can bet that the snow is great for the town’s economy with the tourism that the ski resorts bring in. Sometimes the snow comes in such large spurts that people often find themselves trapped in their homes from their doors and garages being snowed in.
4. Kirkwood Mountain, California, US – 472 inches
Just south of Lake Tahoe in the western Sierras that gets plenty of snow each year thanks to the moisture from the Pacific. Given its convenient location, Kirkwood Mountain is the first to get slammed with snowfall every year. Then of course, add in mountains and valleys into the equation, which helps the winter storms last longer than the average time frame, and you literally get a blanket of snow dropped on the mountain. The ski and resort area keeps a consistent tourism market every year with skiers and snowboarders.
3. Alyeska, Alaska – 476 inches
Of course with Alaska’s location within the northern hemisphere, you’re probably thinking, “Of course there’s snow up there”, but this particular location is pretty special compared to the rest of the state. Alyeska is just outside of Anchorage, and while there is a resort with lots of powder, getting there can be proven to be quite difficult. It is located within Chugach State Park near the Alaskan shoreline where the southern edge is all shoreline. It is assured that once you arrive at the resort, the outside world literally melts away and it’s only you and the snow.
2. Alta Ski Area, Utah – 522 inches
This area is a “Skiers Only” paradise where no snowboarders are allowed, and haven’t been since the mid-1980’s. Boasting an average of 522 inches of snow per year, the Alta Ski Area is located on the edge of the Great Salt Lake in the Wasatch Mountains in the Little Cottonwood Canyon. The nearest major city is Salt Lake City way below the mountain. The ban on snowboarders has gotten so dramatic that there is a lawsuit suing the ski resort for violating the 14th Amendment in the United States Constitution.
1. Mt. Fidelity, Glacier National Park, British Columbia – 579 inches
Here we are, the snowiest place in the world that still sees human life is Mt. Fidelity found in the British Columbia, seeing about 579 inches of snow each year on average. Unlike most of the entries on this list, this snowy area isn’t near a large body of water and is mainly inland. Because of this, the mountain produces massive snowfalls and plenty of powder for snowboarders and skiers alike, and Glacier National Park hosts numerous athletes and hobbyists each year. So, if you want to visit the snowiest place on earth, take a trip up to Canada and be sure to dress nice and warm.